Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Latter Day Calling


Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As most of the organized church moves farther and farther away from Christ and his teachings the end of all things is at hand. And the allegiance of professing believers is being sorely tested. But most of the evangelical community has become so inoculated and intoxicated with a false religion they call Christianity that they see anything even close to a warning as extremism. There are many aspects of this modern version of Christianity that serve as a buffer and prevents any deep and authentic evaluation from individual believers or the church as a whole.

Professing believers have found wonderful fellowship in their local church, and while they scold their children about peer pressure they themselves have become imprisoned within the same principle. Good fellowship is defined as having people within the same demographics as you, and having some socio-economic kinship as well as having an ecclesiastical construct which appeals to your children. In general a family atmosphere is one of the most alluring factors in the average local evangelical church. And make no mistake most evangelical churches strive to build those social ties because the leadership knows that those are the ties which will grow and keep the membership.

In fact there are a legion of books that help instruct the local evangelical leadership as to how to construct that kind of family atmosphere and a sense of belonging. I have read many of those books and they place the gospel or a preaching of God’s Word as peripheral. A church can grow and build without any real gospel or call to a sacrificial discipleship. You doubt that? Pull out the Yellow Pages and there you can find many. Create some slick advertisement, friendly people, age group ministries, competent follow up to visitors, and pleasant and relevant preaching and you have the makings of a growing church. Now some of those things should be a part of every church, but when the means become an end and the gospel of Jesus Christ and a continuing challenge to sacrificially serve the Risen Christ becomes non-existent then you have a club and not a gathering of self denying followers of Jesus Christ.

But it is most difficult to extricate one’s self from the midst of one of those evangelical clubs. The initial doubt about the Biblical authenticity of your fellowship is quickly dissolved with the love and fondness you have for the people and many times the preacher. And just the thought of what it would require to leave also aids in the resistance in any change. The status quo, while admitting all churches are imperfect, is a well worn path. In fact there are many dedicated believers to whom you look up that attend your own fellowship and even entertaining the thought of leaving is an unspoken indictment against them. And besides, your children are settled and have made friends. You see, the deck is stacked against even a season of fasting and prayer to seek God’s will.

The prospect of the unknown is also a deterrent against allowing the Spirit a free reign concerning the will of God in this area. And you may be seen as judgmental and eccentric or even extreme. You have so many good relationships that may be jeopardized if you were to hold up your present ecclesiastical construct to Biblical scrutiny. In fact the Spirit may also identify things in your own spiritual walk which may require repentance.

And then there is the issue of humility. Let me share from my own personal experience. I have found true and genuine humility an incredibly elusive spiritual trait. When you have seen things that are definitely against the teachings of Jesus so clearly that you have had boldness to speak about them, then you have entered into a battlefield where humility is rarely sought. I have often spoken truth in a self righteous spirit even though what I have shared was truth. It is a great paradox which only Jesus Himself has been able to master. Speaking words of correction that indict the church leaders does not lend itself to humility. In fact it is a breeding ground for pontification and hubris.

Just peruse the discernment blogs and you can quickly find some obnoxious and self righteous rhetoric. That is to be avoided if we really want to follow Jesus. But be aware you will need to do constant sentry duty about your own motives and attitudes. This is no “I have arrived” proposition. This is a journey which when properly trod will often require repentance and will also lend itself to an experience of pain, some doubt, and some tears. It is not an easy path. But it is the path upon which He walks. If you are looking for a self affirming and easy path you must not even consider leaving the path the church is continuing to walk.

But this issue is not just about some minor or even major compromises. The issue goes much deeper than that. In fact the issue rips at the very fabric about the nature of the faith. Yes, it is Biblically plausible to suggest that the core of evangelicalism has left the faith and now overtly practices a hybrid form of Christianity which takes pagan and hedonistic principles and employs them into both its practices and doctrinal foundations. And what is left is not a compromised form of the faith but a completely different faith altogether. Now that is quite a statement is it not?

But for anyone to even consider such a statement it takes a process of the Spirit. And that process does not begin with cataloguing the sins of the church. Believe me, it begins with the Spirit holding up a mirror to your own sins. And many cannot bear such a sight and therefore retreat back into the comfort of the modern ecclesiastical forest. After all they still believe in Jesus and they still support missions. They even believe in a literal hell. So what’s the big problem? You see, only the Spirit can open a heart to see things which cannot be seen through logic and must be seen apart from any comparison within the evangelical community. These things must be seen in the Biblical abstract. And yet we are geared to see things with a comparative lens that allows for and even embraces imperfections and shortcomings. But these imperfections and shortcomings are so grievous and so profound that they not only are opposed to the teachings of Jesus, but they provide a platform for a continuing departure from His teachings that is directly affected by the descent of the surrounding culture.

These last days present a real and tangible challenge to each individual believer. There are so many compromises and easy paths available to us all that millions upon millions are walking along in a sort of religious fog and unaware that the Spirit is calling the followers of Jesus into a sacred chamber of His presence which is remarkably separate from the ecclesiastical norm. But so often words like these just lend themselves to a little thought and perhaps some quantitative consideration. In other words they elicit some fleeting thoughts but rarely any life changing commitment. The overwhelming majority of truly saved believers have their testimony rooted in days gone by and not in any real sense in the present. The changes that we experienced in those early days suffice and we do not even entertain the possibility that the same Spirit that changed us then desires to do a miraculous metamorphosis within us today as well.

Rom.12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

If we only had John 3:16 and these two verses would that not challenge us way beyond what is being presented today? When was the last time the Spirit deeply changed your heart and your life was once again changed in an observable way? When was the last time you diligently sought the face of Christ and the power of the Spirit in order for Him to mold your heart into His? Most church members would consider those words as some kind of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. He who has ears let him hear.

Would you, could you even consider that there is so much more to the faith of Christ that is now being believed? Can you even pause for one precious moment and entertain the thought that Christ would have you alter your course? Take a moment and answer this question: Is there a burning thirst within your heart to know Him more fully? And if there is not that thirst tangible within you what are you willing to do to regain it again? Are you ready to stand before the Risen Christ?

How much of your heart belongs completely to Jesus and how much belongs to the things and cares of this present world? These are eternal issues which have been drowned out by the consuming influence of this material world. How much time is left only God knows. But perhaps you still have today. Yes there is a calling in these last days, but this may not just be the last days, but this may be the last day.


michael said...

To know Him more fully? Yes. I've been walking this out coming on forty years now with a number of brothers and sisters ahead of me. The Lord was doing extraordinary things in the late 60's and well before Christ touched my heart and soul in 1975. Your words this morning do ring the bell within my soul.

There are three portions of Scripture I'm settled on now, or more, but they describe where I'm headed and deeply inspired by the vision they put in my soul so as to not become discouraged so much even though I do get that way at times!

King David wrote these words for the inaugural song that preceded the ministry of the temple that was set up to be a house of prayer for the nations:

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!" Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. (1 Chronicles 16:31-33 ESV)

There are some other portions of Scripture that fill in the gaps:

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1, 2 ESV)

With Micah and this vision there is Isaiah chapter two and words that are the same.

Now we can understand how much later on down the historical timeline we see these things written by the Apostle Paul that should inform us of two very practical truths and confirm those words from King David about what the Church will be like at the end of the ages as well as the created heavens and earth and the world. What Paul was given and writes we see it through Micah's eyes and Isaiah's too.

Here is the first:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV)

Make no mistake, this is where the Bride of Christ will be and what she will look like to Christ and to the world at the end of time. Right now she doesn't look anything like what the Apostle Paul writes there (Eph. 1:7-10), not to worry, Jesus is going to have a wedding and His Bride will have made herself ready! The Apostle assures us of this and we can settle it by these verses that Christ can and will change us and make us conform to Him in all His radiance and holiness and beauty.

This bring me to the second point Paul makes, here:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20, 21 ESV)

Let us be like the farmer plowing his field and keep out eyes on that distant point in the row and move towards it. At the end of the day the rows will be straight and all look the same!

Anonymous said...


What a strong word this Sunday morning! This just agrees with my soul. And, I know how difficult it is for people to try to pull away from this fog.

Just yesterday, a thought occurred to me. I was in a busy mall and people were all distracted walking around. I suddenly became aware that the world I live in is 100% concentrated on the flesh and the 'now'. People milling about, talking about everything but the Saviour of our souls. We are consumed with things, sights, sounds, tastes all the time. There is no place for Jesus to fit in.

Compared to the early church, at least the heathen, among the Jewish believers, all thirsted for some deity to comfort and satisfy their souls, as misguided as they were. Many pagans fasted, did rituals daily, practiced religious activities out in the streets in public.

Today, in N.A., self-professed christians find it taboo or embarrassing for us to discuss God out loud in a store; if two or three gathered in a corner of a store bent their heads down to pray, people would be staring them down, and hybrid christians, would be feeling embarrassed and quickly walk away.

If most christians are too ashamed to show Him to the world in public, because trends and fads are our little gods that distract us totally, we've lost of first love. It just dawned on me that my community does not outwardly embrace christianity. The devil's territory is the malls, entertainment, outdoor bazaars, markets, shows, theatres, restaurants where a majority go to spend money and energy. And there's no sense of God there, neither in work places, neither in hospitals, etc.

It's dawning on me that I live on a planet that rejected Christ, and no wonder I sometimes feel void, and empty and dry. It's sucking us dry to try to live in this saturated enemy's kingdom. Was just watching CNN on the Google Glass trend. People now can see around them while watching a screen and give commands - how much more distractions do we need to keep our minds on the world rather than Jesus? Bro. Rick has nailed it on the head for me.....the church has become a hybrid form of christianity.

This hybrid thing is maybe why many of us can't go back inside the churches, even though some of us crave friends and fellowship and gathering and worshipping in His Name. I suppose this is the sacrifice I must make, to forfeit friendships, so as not to be snagged into this hybrid, but only God knows; I'll leave it in His hands. Now that I think of it, the churches I attended never once complained about how deep and entrenched our society is in the world. As soon as church is over, they all trek out to the restaurants and malls and many don't once assume any interest in their waitresses or the clerks in stores that serve them. They just go get their needs met in malls and shop and leave, and don't make one iota of Christ-like example to that world outside the church.

Again, I really believe that ancient pagan societies gave more leeway to those willing to worship their idols, and Jews who also lived among them, were not 'ashamed' of stopping in the street or temple to pray and raising hands to worship God. David danced before the Lord in front of his people in a cloth. And I'm sure the early church saints were not ashamed of going into markets and raising holy hands or getting on their knees and praying in public. Would I be able to do that, if the Spirit of God inclined me, in the middle of a mall? I pray I would, but when it's crunch time, I might be extremely conflicted because I know someone would probably call the ambulance thinking I was mad or insane.

I pray these are the last days and even though we all want our loved ones and the world to come to Christ first, I wonder how that can be accomplished in a world where masses of people congragate in markets and squares and not ONE mentions the name of JESUS.



Reine Gnade said...

In my opinion the Bride of Christ is unified. We shouldn't keep mistakenly calling the synagogue of Satan the Bride of Christ!

The Bride of Christ already exults the name of LORD Jesus above all names. Truly unity in worship glorifies God!

Anonymous said...

Just another thought. I know I've been born in this century, in this Americanized culture, although from Canada, and for the reason only God knows. So, most of us here have to work hard to stay on that narrow path, not looking right to the tempting materialism, not looking left to the tempting carnality and addictions.

It's not easy to live in a Third World nation, as a christian, I'm sure; but their difficulty is in how many are persecuted for their faith. These true believers are willing to give all for Jesus. They aren't as lured into the traps of the enemy, which ensnares their soul, like we in the West are. The church in the West is barely hanging on, not because it's being persecuted, but because it's rich and has need of nothing, and it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Riches, even moderate riches, have made institutional churches and denominations non-effective. The four-wall churches have lost Christ's authority; maybe they have a little of it, because of His mercy, but only because of His mercy and His will that none perish. And I believe they've lost most of His authority, with the gifts of the Spirit, because they are narcissistic people who have not layed down their selfish ways and idols at the altar. I speak to myself here too. It took a lot of pain for me to come to this conclusion. I've been there, and am slowly beginning to see what God has revealed to us here. Thank you Jesus!!

If the institutionalized churches have little of Christ's authority and power because they've been bewitched by riches and worldly power, then where will they go? Will they begin to see their error? There are so few sites like these to call them out of her.

Like Reine Gnade says, we know that the Lord is building His church and that this invisible Bride is unified and is keeping herself ready; but it is the Lord's will that none should perish and it would be His will that as many as can be pulled out of the faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Thank you Bro. Rick for keeping to plug at this, for many might be reached and read this site and be convicted by His Word and His true direction for His Church. Even though I don't yet know what direction His true church could go in, living in the West, it may be that we'll never see His Church manifesting itself anymore, except in individuals and small pockets of church house believers.


Anonymous said...

When I was around 13 years old I worked for a farmer/rancher moving irrigation pipe. These pipes were 40 feet long and 3 inches in diameter, made of aluminum, with a large sprinkler head on one end. These sprinkler lines had to be moved 60 feet to the next area to be watered, every 12 hours. So once in the early morning and in the late afternoon I was moving the lines. To keep these lines straight and so every area of the crop was covered with water you picked a point on the mountains some 30 miles away and that was your focus, every time, without fail, to set those pipes pointed towards that spot. With exception of a few times when I was day dreaming and not really paying attention to my work, the lines were straight and true. Those times that I did mess up the end of the line was some 40 feet away from the expected point.

Sometimes the owner would have me go back and correct the error I had made, sometimes he would not. But those times I did correct my error I could not just go to the end of that line and pull the pipes back to where they needed to be. Some of those sprinkler lines had 33 sections of pipe that is a quarter of a mile long. I had to go back to the beginning, shut off the flow of water and un-hook each individual pipe, laying it in its’ proper place. Rick has stated this procedure of re-setting us into our proper place, pointing us back to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. And now keeping our eyes and our hearts on the Rock, that is Jesus, our foundation, our focus point. The Holy Spirit has always been here and He is working on each one of us, individually. Re-setting or laying our thinking in line with His Word.

It is the same with the “Latter Day Calling”, the brick and mortar churches have lost their focus, they have missed the mark. That mark or focus point being Jesus. They are daydreaming about whatever and have lost sight of what they are to be doing. The western church has moved their point of focus from the Word of God and put that focus on their own words from the lord. And they are off the mark by a country mile.

The western church needs to go back to the beginning, starting over to lay the line that leads to the cross and salvation, the line that leads straight to Jesus.